Mumbai: The Esplanade Metropolitan Court of Mumbai on Tuesday admitted a criminal defamation suit filed by R Venkatramanan, Managing Trustee of Tata Trusts, against the expelled chairman of Tata Sons, Cyrus Mistry, his brother Shapoorji Mistry.
The lawsuit accused Cyrus Mistry and his associates of making false, defamatory statements against Venkatramanan. "The court has summoned Mistry and others in the criminal defamation case filed by us, wherein we have demanded a compensation of Rs 500 crore," Parvez Memon, who appeared for Venkatramanan, told PTI. The accused face charges under Sections, 499 500 and 501 of the Indian Penal Code.
Taking cognisance of the defamation complaint, the court summoned the presence of Cyrus Mistry, Shapoor Mistry and directors of Cyrus Investments and Sterling Investments, before the court on August 24. The accused will have to appear before the court to seek bail bonds.
This lawsuit comes amidst an on-going spat between the Tatas and the Mistrys at the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, ever since Cyrus Mistry was ousted from his position as Chairman of Tata Sons in October, 2016.
Days after his removal, Mistry had, in an email, alleged that illegal transactions worth Rs 22 crore had taken place at the group's aviation venture AirAsia India. He had accused Venkatramanan of having tried to cover it up. The Enforcement Directorate has been investigating the issue and the outcome is awaited.
Cyrus Mistry and his company which held 18.4 per cent stakes in Tata Sons, had moved the Mumbai tribunal against the Tatas. The tribunal had however dismissed the petition citing that the investment firms have insufficient shareholding to seek a legal recourse.
Parvez Memon argued that Venkatraman’s dignity and reputation is worth a lot more than the wealth Mistry owns. He called Mistry’s claims as ‘false and baseless’, according to a report in the Financial Express.
Mistry's office issued a statement regarding the issue and called the lawsuit a "proxy battle" played by the Tatas through Venkatramanan. It added that it is an effort to "muzzle" the legal battle the Tatas are facing and that the Mistrys will continue to do the protest against the "oppressive conduct and mismanagement" of the Tatas.